CASPER, Wyo. — Kyle Gamroth is running for one of two available Ward II seats on the Casper City Council. He says that if elected “I will do everything I can to reduce regulations for small businesses and start-ups or otherwise make it easier for them to realize their vision and potential.”
Gamroth says he decided to run for city council after being raised with the idea that “service to one’s community is one of the most admirable ways for a person to spend their time.” He added that the community is facing an “unprecedented crisis” and that he feels it is his duty “to serve to the greatest extent that I am able.”
Gamroth was raised in Casper and says that he is now “husband to a beautiful wife and father to a gorgeous little girl.”
Article continues below...
“My family is everything to me and running for city council was not an easy decision because of the time I know it will take from them,” he said. “My father Brian Scott Gamroth, in addition to hosting the KTWO morning show for 23 years, was well known for being generous with his time, talent, and friendship. We certainly had our disagreements on policy but as far as personality, I do my best to emulate him as much as possible.”
“He was my role model and mentor. If you don’t already know me or my values, but you were familiar with my father, just know that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree (I think). Since his passing I have been actively seeking ways to contribute in my own way to the community.”
Gamroth says his efforts to become involved in the community include becoming a “Certified Tourism Ambassador,” a program offered by the Casper Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. He has also graduated from the Casper Area Chamber of Commerce’s “Leadership Casper” program.
“I believe that this pursuit for personal development, my commitment to family and this community, and the relationships I’ve built through my work with nonprofits and many other various organizations has given me the foundation I would need to be an effective city councilmember,” he said.
Gamroth explains that his vision for Casper includes working to support the community’s “entrpreneurial spirit.” He points to past Casper Start-Up Challenges, which aim to give a boost to new business ideas in the community.
“There has been an explosion of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit in Casper for the past several years and that energy needs to be sustained if we are to be prosperous into the future,” he said. “Small businesses employ 60% of the private workforce in our state and the start-ups that we’ve been lucky to enjoy in Casper are going to be the buffer we need to keep our heads above water while the energy industry reorients itself.”
“They are agile and able to fill niche markets, thereby diversifying our economy and increasing our resiliency. Casper is a hotbed of creativity and we need to nurture that as much as possible.”
Gamroth says he is aware that the city is facing a tough financial outlook and that he would bring a focus on fiscal responsibility.
“We are projected to see an 18% reduction in sales tax revenue this year (nearly $30 million), which is really unfortunate considering nearly every city project is funded using 1-cent sales tax money,” he said. “I’m on the board of one of 30 nonprofits that saw its One Cent funding cut by 20%.”
“This is on top of it also being one of the many nonprofits that also had to cancel or reimagine its annual fundraiser due to Covid-19, fundraisers that typically generate a large portion of the organization’s yearly income. Those cuts from the city are necessary, but they hurt and are going to impact the services those organizations provide.”
Gamroth said that he has heard some people argue that the city’s “rainy day” funds can support spending through the crisis, but he noted that Casper City Manager Carter Napier projected in June that the city would see a burn rate of reserves of around 11% throughout the fiscal year, even with a tighter budget.
“Widespread cuts are the only way to reduce necessary spending without immediately depleting these reserves,” Gamroth said. “Because of that I agree with the council’s decision to freeze wage step increases [for employees] and implement an employee furlough program.”
“City expenses were also cut by 35% [under the new budget] and capital funding was cut by 53%. City Manager Carter Napier put together a Capital projects budget that is based on no new revenue, but only cash on hand. I agree with this as well. Only the highest priority projects, those that absolutely cannot wait another year, should be funded, and only with the money we know we have, not money we expect to receive. These are unpredictable times and we know very little about what the next 6-12 months are going to look like.”
Gamroth noted that the local cuts are in addition to cuts to state agency budgets amid the pandemic and economic downturn.
“Don’t forget, these city cuts are also on top of state cuts of 10-20% across all agencies, many of which provide services to the poor, mentally ill, and elderly,” he said. “Our quality of life is going to diminish in some ways; there’s no avoiding that. But we do have some ability to choose where we would like to see the money go as well as where we can afford to reduce or lose it.”
Gamroth says he has respect for current members of the city council, the city manager and other city staff.
“Those are tough jobs without many easy answers,” he said. “There are of course decisions that have been made that I disagree with but I think most of them try their best to do what they believe to be right. That being said I believe I can bring an energy to council that doesn’t currently exist; an energy that would improve the quality of communication between the city officials and its citizens, drive our community to explore new and more efficient ways to govern ourselves, and seek to grow and adapt to this quickly changing world while still preserving the qualities that make this a great place to live.”
Gamroth said he supports the council’s direction to allow the television production of “Street Outlaws” to be filmed on a portion of Amoco Road, pointing to the estimated $1.8 million production of that show generated for the county in July.
While property taxes are the purview of the county, Gamroth says he supports “being aggressive on this issue because it has affected thousands of residents in our area.”
“Over 3,000 formal appeals were filed this year to the County Assessor’s office over disputes about large property tax increases,” he said. “The council met with County Assessor Matt Keating in late June during a work session and Mayor Freel felt that the council’s questions were not answered, so the council decided to send a letter to the Wyoming State Board of Equalization for clarification.”
“The increased property taxes are coming at a time of financial hardship for many and the people deserve to know exactly how those assessments are made and whether they are accurate.”
Another area where he’d like to see some action is in regard to criminal justice. He says substance abuse should be treated as a public health issue rather than a criminal issue.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results but that’s exactly what we’ve done in regards to drug policy in this state (and country),” Gamroth said. “The U.S. has 5% of the world’s citizens but holds 25% of the world’s prisoners, nearly as many as Russia and China combined. In our own state, 50% of the people in Wyoming prisons are there for revocation of their probation or parole for using a prohibited substance.”
“The state penitentiary is crumbling, our jails and prisons are at capacity, the WDOC suffers from chronic underfunding and staffing shortages, and recidivism is only going to go up just like last time that treatment programs were cut, because the majority of prisoners suffer from a substance abuse disorder and will likely not be receiving help for it while incarcerated.”
He says that the state spends $35,000-$50,000 per prisoner per year. Gamroth says he supports decriminalizing the possession and use of illicit substances and instead directing that funding toward treatment and recovery programs and prevention.
“As Benjamin Franklin said, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,'” Gamroth said. “Not only is treating substance abuse as a public health issue the most evidence-based and fiscally conservative approach, but there is no better time to make necessary transformations than now.”
“To be clear: Committing any other crime while under the use of drugs should still be treated as a criminal offense (driving, child neglect, assault, robbery, etc). Drug usage is not an excuse or free pass for criminal behavior. However, personal drug use is a form of bodily autonomy/integrity and Wyoming is supposed to be one of the most liberty-minded states in America, the Land of the Free.”
Gamroth says that he knows the community is facing a large number of problems.
“I’m not naive enough to think that I have all the answers to our city’s problems, but to get the right answers you have to ask the right questions, and I can promise that I will do that,” he said.
His hobbies include “hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking the Platte, and anything else that gives me reason to be outside.”
Candidates chosen to serve on the Casper City Council are elected to four year terms. Gamroth is running for one of two seats available in Ward II. Candidates for the contests in each of Casper’s three wards are as follows (links to Oil City’s coverage of each of the candidates will be added as we complete those):
- Ward I (Two seats available)
- Ward II (Two seats available)
- Ward III (one seat available)
NOTE: Oil City has reached out to all city council candidates via email. We will provide profiles of each of the candidates in the order that we receive their responses.
NOTE: Gamroth is not an employee of Oil City News but works with Oil City often in a professional capacity. He was sent the same set of questions as were all other candidates for city council and, besides the responses he provided to those questions, did not have further input into this article.